One of my favorite sayings is, “You are only beaten, if you give up.” I’ve seen too many towns that have mentally given up when confronted with adversity. But, I’ve also seen some that just don’t have the words ‘give up’ in their vocabulary. Let me tell you about one of those towns today.
Langdon, ND (population 2,101) is the county seat of Cavalier County (population 4,330), located on the Canadian border. It is the largest town in the area within a 50 mile radius. It is a very remote area of the country.
The community went through a boom in the 1960s and 70s when the Stanley R. Mickelson Safeguard Complex, the nerve center for the U. S. anti-ballistic missile defense system was built 12 miles to the south of Langdon. The population of Langdon nearly doubled from 1960 to 1970, to nearly 4,000. The facility was officially open for only five days, before the federal government announced in 1975 plans to shutter it. By 1980, the population has fallen back to 2,335.
The Cavalier County Job Development Authority (CCJDA), an Economic Development organization, was set up to help create new economic opportunities in the county. The historic Roxy Theater, a seventy year old building on the National Registry of Historic Places was purchased in the late 1990s, was refurbished and was up and running in only 8 months, showing first run movies. Another jewel is the Vic Sturlaugson Learning Center, which was built in 2001 with $700,000 raised in local donations over a 15 month period.
A Labor Day weekend fire in 2004 is the impetus for Langdon’s most ambitious project. The fire destroyed the historic limestone Boyd Block landmark. Rather than leaving a gap in their downtown where the Boyd Block building sat, Langdon decided to rebuild a new landmark, one reminiscent of the old. The new building will house the Spirit of the Prairie Cultural Center, a cultural/interpretive center that will feature cutting-edge technology to provide three-dimensional tours of the region’s rich history.
Some towns just never give up. Langdon is one of those towns.